That the following image is actually a checklist. (click image for full size)
I saw this image on another site today and a few of the items caught my eye, I began to wonder, “How many of these items could be checked off if we treated this as a checklist for Fascism.” I decided to do a little research and find out how many of them could truly be crossed off. This list was published by political scientist Lawrence Britt in the Spring of 2003. This site explains each of the item and what it actually means in greater detail: http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/fasci14chars.html
So let’s find out, based on what’s going on in the United States today, how many of these items could be checked off. This wouldn’t necessarily prove or disprove that the US is headed towards Fascism as these warning signs are based on fascist countries of the past and there are always variables that can change the outcome of events. My intention for this research was more out of curiosity to see how many events could be drawn in parallel to these warning signs.
Here’s what we’re gonna do, we’ll start at the top and work our way down. If I can find similar examples to an item on the list I’ll discuss, if I can’t, hey shorter article which will make it that much easier to write. So here we go.
- Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – First off, what the hell does that mean. It’s essentially a fancy way of saying of “patriotism.” Just look around and I’m sure you’ll notice that we are an extremely patriotic nation. US Patriotism seemed to become concentrated shortly after 9/11 when we all started to pretend that we were somehow respecting the victims by hanging cheap Chinese made US flags from our car windows and taping pictures of US flags that we pulled from newspapers to any surface that wouldn’t reject Scotch tape. Do a search on Google Images for the word “patriotic,” here I’ll do it for you. So much red, white and blue you’d think you could only see in those colors. Now there’s nothing wrong with loving your country and showing your support for it, but there is such a thing as overdoing it (and buying crappy trinkets, motivational posters, and bumper stickers hardly counts as showing support). This overly patriotic attitude has lead many Americans to have a “better than every other country” mantra, there’s another name for this superiority complex, Jingoism.
- Disdain for Human Rights – Let’s use the TSA‘s latest assault on personal privacy as the starting point for this one. With the use the of invasive scanners a person’s right to protection from illegal search and seizure is broken. (reference) I hear you saying, “well, just don’t fly then,” but that’s where this gets checked off. Our rights came under attack because our country was attacked by terrorists, we all felt incredibly insecure and terrified that another attack could happen at anytime. Under the guise of preventing these future attacks the government issued an all out attack against human rights: invasion of privacy, illegal search and seizure, torture, long incarcerations of prisoners, to name a few (better known as The Patriot Act, see how they named that so people would feel bad going against it). And we all went along with it because we had been convinced that these changes were necessary to ensure our safety despite it coming at a cost to our rights. Those that resist or argue against this treatment are generally labeled as unpatriotic.
- Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – Pick a race, political party, religion, or sexual orientation and you’re bound to find at least one example of them being blamed for our country/economy being in the state that it is. The scapegoat that’s in fashion these days is Muslims, primarily, followed by liberals and homosexuals. By rallying a group of citizens against one or more of these groups it brings them closer together and to your cause. Depending on what news network you rely on they’ll be blaming a different minority. (reference) (reference)
- Supremacy of the Military – The United States has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, good thing to, you can’t just go stepping on other countries and not have a sizable military to back you up. If you need proof of the supremacy of our military just look at the 2010 budget, $680 billion! Look a little further and you’ll see the estimated 2011 budget will be over one trillion dollars. The latest information from other countries shows that our 2006 military budget of $515 billion was equal to the military budgets of China, Russia, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, India, Brazil, Italy, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, and The Netherlands combined.
- Rampant Sexism – At first thought I didn’t think this was really a problem in the US. But after some research I’ve learned that sexism isn’t just about women being able to vote or get jobs. It’s about a woman’s right to choose abortion and the recent attempts to outlaw it. (reference) (reference) It’s about gay marriage and the recent push to ban it outright. (reference) (reference) We’re not talking about how people feel about these topics, this is about the government getting involved in legislation and policies that could be easily considered gray areas. This is about pushing a primarily religious based viewpoint on citizens that may not practice the same religion and therefore don’t feel the same way. Is abortion bad, definitely, but education and valid alternate options is the way to eradicate it, not outlawing it. Is gay marriage bad? Depends on who you ask (I don’t believe so). Would it destroy the wholesomeness of marriage? Doubt it. Regardless, the government should not and does not have the authority to ban it.
- Controlled Mass Media – While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that our media is controlled by the government, they are controlled by extremely wealthy individuals and organizations. These very same organizations and individuals contribute millions upon millions of dollars to politicians and political groups as campaign contributions, effectively allowing the donor to control votes. But it doesn’t just stop there, who does the media rely on to get material for their reports, government officials. These government officials can censor, omit, manipulate or embellish any information they pass on to the media (and I’m willing to bet this happens on a regular basis).
- Obsession with National Security – Uh, yeah, do I even need to present an example for this one? I do? Well, see “Disdain for Human Rights” above.
- Religion and Government are Intertwined – While our country and government was founded on Christian principles, the founding fathers were smart enough to put that “separation of church and state” clause in the Constitution. That concept states that religion is between a man and his God, no one else. Unfortunately recent events are indicating that religion is sneaking its way into our government. Two perfect examples would be gay marriage and abortion, two things that are generally frowned upon by many religions. It is with that idea that the government has been trying to push legislation to outlaw them both when they have no right to do so. Killing a person is bad, religion or not, most sane people would agree with that, but the problem with applying that argument to abortion is that many people would disagree at which point a fetus becomes a person. In America is not uncommon for Christians to be disgusted whenever someone mentions the problems with prayer in schools, or the presence of The Ten Commandments on government buildings. On TV and in general conversation you may hear Christians expressing concern of the Muslims trying impose Sharia law in the United States, then in the next sentence you’ll hear about how the government is trying to ban abortions and gay marriage (things that many people have no problem with but is expressly forbidden in Christianity). So Sharia law, huge problem, Christian law, a-okay. It’s funny how people have no problem with religion encroaching on government, as long as its their religion. (reference)
- Corporate Power is Protected – In the United States, corporations are still granted the same rights as regular citizens, I’d say that’s pretty protected. Couple that with the recent trend of showering corporations with numerous tax breaks and you begin to see that in this country the focus is on business and profit. Thankfully there have been recent pushes all over the country to get corporate personhood eliminated. (reference)
- Labor Power is Supressed – With Wisconsin and Ohio’s recent attempts at crushing the unions of public employees (all in the name of balancing state budgets) it’s obvious that the goal here is the suppression of the labor force. Unions are seen as a threat by those in power and thus need to be eliminated or suppressed. This action is further strengthened by the media highlighting unions are greedy, lazy, opportunists. They’ve tried embellishing these accusations by pointing out that public sector is a government-imposed monopoly and that the unions then feel they are free to dip their hands into the pockets of all the taxpayers and take as much as they can carry (they seem to forget that these union members pay taxes also, any rise in their salary will subsequently cause a rise in their income taxes)
- Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – The recent threat of reduced pay for teachers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan indicate that education is no longer a top priority for those in charge. (reference) I suppose a dumb citizen is a compliant citizen, willing to go along with whatever line you feed them. The additional threat of budget cuts to public schools means that theater, arts, and music programs will see the first eliminations. Additional federal budget cuts are indicating reduced funding for fine arts programs across the country. And the House has already passed a bill to de-fund NPR, playing off the bad publicity NPR had recently received thanks to a heavily edited and mostly discredited sting video. Thankfully we haven’t yet resorted to censoring or arresting professors and academics. (reference)
- Obsession with Crime and Punishment – I haven’t found any solid examples for this one, in fact, I’ve found evidence of the contrary. With the recent protests in Wisconsin, the police have been very civil and, at times, supportive of protesters.
- Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – “The use of governmental power and authority to protect friends from accountability.” Many of those responsible for our economy’s failure have not been accused or arrested for any wrongdoing. Another aspect is the appropriation of national resources and treasures, I don’t think this aspect would apply to the US.
- Fraudulent Elections – The manipulation of elections by smear campaigns is something our country seems to excel at. New Hampshire government has tried controlling voting numbers by preventing college students from voting unless they meet a very specific set of guidelines. (reference) Tea Party president, Judson Phillips, suggested that voting be restricted so that only property owners can vote, if this were to happen anyone renting an apartment would be prohibited from voting. (reference) Manipulation of the media would also fall under the is category, all you need to think about is the finger-pointing, name calling, and biased twist news networks broadcast towards the opposing side.
So where does that leave us, I was able to find examples for all but one, ouch.
Now I’ll be honest, many of these examples may be nothing more than coincidental and not related to the categories in question. Our country is a mess right now, and some (notice I said “some”) of these things may just be necessary evils that, maybe, after some recovery may be undone.
On the other hand though, some of these subjects, such as “Religion and Government are Intertwined” are truly real, very serious, and need to be handled. Is the United States on the verge of becoming Fascist? I don’t believe so, I found this list and thought it might be interesting to see how many of the categories fit with things happening today in America (turns out there’s quite a few). Who’s to say this list is complete or accurate as to the true recipe for Fascism. But the very fact that our country is engaged in things that could possibly (keyword possibly) fall under these categories is an issue, in all honesty the greatest country in the world shouldn’t fall under any of them.